30 years old career change scared of financial impact.. any advice


I am considering a career change. I am just terrified by the fact that I won’t be able to make any real money until I am 40 assuming all goes well (I’m in my late 20s).

However, my main reason for wanting to go into medical school is job security and providing security and a good life for my family (is that a good reason?). I work a job right now where it is dog eat dog and I can’t stand it. I could be cut out anytime (I don’t want to be 40 and have no job). I did some calculations and if I become a doctor I will likely make a lot more money and have job security. This assumes I work until I am at least 55.

Does anyone have any advice to calm my nerves? I haven’t even started my post bacc courses.

I should add I do not have any children.

Is there anything else that draws you to medicine? That is a huge commitment and potentially a huge opportunity cost due to lack of income and huge loans for “startup” cost. There are plenty of other careers that can lead to money without the time suck that is the path to becoming a physician. Make sure medicine is something you really want to do before fully committing. “Why medicine” will undoubtedly be asked during the application phase.

Not trying to dissuade you, just want to make sure it isn’t something you’ll likely regret after spending a lot of money up front. I’d much rather be happy than rich. If money comes with the happiness, double bonus.

IMHO, money/security should never be the primary motivator in attending medical school at ANY age, but especially not for a nontrad.

Thanks for your response.

I respect your opinion.

However, it is not easy out there. I don’t want to live in a area with crime (I’ve been robbed… do you know what that feels like), retire comfortably, I want to be able to send my kids to good schools, etc, etc.

For me, those reasons are much more important than “I want to help people and/or spend my time doing something I enjoy”.

I would really appreciate if you could help backup your statement - maybe it would help me. If not, no problem.


Welcome to OPM! I started postbacc at 51, med school at 53, graduated at 57 and will be done residency at 60.

I had no family to support and no debt going in.

I owe upwards of $350,000 in med school debt. Can get forbearance during residency, when my salary is about 50,000/yr.

My income is unlikely to be great when my loans are subtracted out.

I knew going it it was going to look sort of like this. Really loving residency so far. There is a loan repayment strategy involving public service I am hoping to use.

If you can have a plan for financing medical school…for example, if your career plans include being career military AND a doctor, then you should be able to get thru without a lot a debt for your and your spouse. Otherwise, have your eyes wide open to the costs of the training

Also, that 50,000 a year is not a great hourly wage when one figures the average resident’s weekly schedule of up to 80 hours/week.

If you pick a primary care medical field (which I did) your after-residency salary will not be as high as if you specialize…but many specialties are pretty competitive and there is no guarantee you will “match” into your chosen specialty.

Those are some of the factors that probably prompted the previous comments.

But to my mind the most important consideration is that if you don’t LOVE medicine, the training is so tough and grueling that one is unlikely to stick with it…and then potentially would have part of that debt to pay back and no medical degree with which to do it.

Sorry to be so scary! I’d suggest shadowing some physicians and seeing if it seems like their day is something you could see yourself doing for your career. That will give you a feel for how much you are willing to risk.


Hi there,

I don’t want to be redundant but I thought I’d chime in and give you my perspective as a 30yo OMS1.

Basically… I agree with everything everyone else has said. I can tell you that the group of non-trads I know sat through the financial aid chat at orientation discussing how we HOPED that by SOME glorious ACT OF GOD we might manage to pay off all those truly frightening and overwhelming student loans.

Seriously…they are terrifying.

As Kate mentioned there are options that don’t involve borrowing nearly half a million dollars from the government but the reality is that most of my class is going to owe a LOT for a LONG TIME. (Did I mention how scary that feels?? It feels really scary… maybe that’s just me…)

My intention is not to dissuade you either but I agree that money should not be your only motivator.

As far as corporate culture is concerned… My husband lost a job not too long ago in fast paced, cut throat co and I have seen first hand how soul crushing that community can be! I completely understand the desire to make a careere change into a field that is truly rewarding and (hopefully someday) stable!! But you should do some real soul searching before making that switch.

I think a good question to ask yourself would be; “If I had endless money would I still wan’t to be a physician?”


“If all my financial dreams go up in smoke will I still be glad I did this?”

Let me tell you…after 2 weeks of class this is already one of the hardes’t things I’ve ever done… if I didn’t think the material was interesting or have a deep desire to be the best possible future doc I can be it would NOT be worth it.

Take some time to research and think before you move forward. Talk to residents and students and definitely shadow if you can!!

Ok…sorry for the monologue!! Time to get off the internet and study so I have a shot and paying off that gosh darned HOUSE worth of loans someday : )

Just curious – what do you plan to tell ad comms about why you want to go into medicine? I have to imagine you’ll get rejected at every school if you open with job security or money. It’s a (sometimes) perk of a being a doctor, but schools want passionate future physicians. They can see through talk of altruism if you’re not passionate about it.

I am also terrified of the huge money requirement this is. I’ll be 40-ish by the time I’m done med school and residency if everything goes according to plan, with about 8 years of little to no retirement savings and making less in residency than I did at my last job.

It’s daunting. It’s doable though. Friends talk about having a “second mortgage” of med school loan repayments. You can also look into forgiveness, military service and/or getting a job that will pay back your loans. But you need to ask yourself, if all of that falls through, are you really OK with giving up 10 years of your life to almost no money and racking up huge debt for a career you don’t seem all that excited about?

Thanks for the responses.

Kate - congrats on your success! keep up the good work.

Just a question - I don’t know much about med school interviews - is altruism altruism what the adcoms really want to hear for the reason for going into medicine? Or how about interest in the subject. I mean does every applicant just repeat the same thing?

They want to hear your reason, whatever that may be. In reality, they’re looking for someone who wants to be in medicine for a reason similar to the school’s mission. My reasons were a) want to combine science and fascination with people/human nature, b) use a) to help people, and c) story about how having the right physician in a chain of folks that spent extra time to clear me medically for my then dream job and wanting to pay that forward (remove medical barriers for people to achieve their goals).

As cheesy/canned as those were, they got me 6 interviews at non-research heavy schools.

I would agree with what most of the posters here have said about thinking about what motivates you to being a doctor and why. Reading through these posts bring to mind what the financier J. P. Morgan said about motivation: “A man always has two reasons for doing anything: a good reason and the real reason.” While he may have meant his observation to apply to business, it also applies to being a physician. The “good reason” that premeds may say is that they want to help people medically, improve people’s lives, cure disease, etc. The “real reason” is either the aforementioned “good reason”, or have a high paying/high status job, job security, etc., or more likely a combination of both. Telling admission committees the “good reason” is probably wise, although I would not be surprised if most admission committee members realize that the “real reason” is there as well (after all, the members of the admission committee were in your same situation once).

Indeed, most doctors who have shared with me their motivations for being a physician have admitted that helping people and living a good lifestyle with job security were among the main (“real”) reasons they became physicians. But most did not start out that way. Many entered medical school hoping to change the world, but upon graduating they found themselves in debt. That debt and working grueling hours made earning lots of money all the more important. (Unfortunately, the high income is a factor in making U.S. health care expensive.)